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Rogue One

Rogue One

I don't know why, but seeing the addendum "a Star Wars story" makes
me want to claw my eyes out for some reason.

dir: Gareth Edwards

2017

Yeah, so, Star Wars movies: for or against?

They always make a billion dollars, they’re as familiar as cheesecake with a similar level of consistency and taste, and they’re completely and utterly unnecessary.

And yet…

I ask myself what need there is (other than the financial) in this world for more Star Wars movies, especially since there seems to be no intention or interest in telling any ‘new’ stories, just in telling the previous ones again and again. The Force Awakens was maligned by some for being a retread of A New Hope, but what would you even say about this one here, Rogue One, replete with its fixation on daddy issues, ending, as it does, exactly at the point where A New Hope, or Star Wars, as we used to know it as, begins?

It’s less of a new construction, and more of an annex or extension on an existing McMansion that’s already plenty monstrously big okay thanks for asking bye.

It was, somewhat dishonestly, touted as a substantially different kind or type of Star Wars film, since it didn’t have any Jedi or Skywalkers in it and had a very different emphasis, being predominately more of a war movie, or at least as much of a war movie than usual.

Bullshit. Total bullshit. There’s a Jedi in Rogue One, two Skywalkers, a partridge in a pear tree wielding a lightsabre and like every Star Wars movie is a war movie with ‘war’ scenes just like all of them contain.

At the very least, this is about something different other than finding out who your father is, or trying to kill your father, or your father trying to kill you, and then the galaxy being saved by your father killing an evil dude.

This is about a girl called Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) trying to find her father, and other people trying to kill her father, or threatening to kill him, only for her father trying to save the galaxy by sacrificing himself. Completely different.

Jyn is perhaps an interesting character, but there’s not much to her other than that she misses her dad (the always awesome in everything he ever does no matter how terrible Mads Mikkelsen), and she wants to find her dad. When she was a child, as happened to many families in Australia, evil Ben Mendelsohn, a high up in the Empire’s hierarchy, comes along to kidnap her and kill her mum. And this is all because Jyn’s dad, who calls her ‘Stardust’ whenever he can, is like an engineer of really big things.

Like, the biggest thing ever, being The Death Star! So, follow me on this if you can; the Empire already rules everything, but decides it needs a planet-sized space station which can blow up whole planets.

I see no problems with any of this. Like, physics-wise or any other way, it’s a sound plan if you’re an evil galactic empire. Mendelsohn, though, isn’t just a man with a plan, he’s a prick who is happy to kill and torment people to get his way. And because it gives him a giggle.

And thus Jyn becomes an orphan, or very orphan-like, from a very young age, and the Death Star is built. The end?

The film skips forward fifteen years into its future (in a galaxy far far away and a long time ago, it means literally to the same day in which A New Hope happens), so its future is still the past I’m so confused no I’m not I get it but I wonder one very clear thing – who cares, why do they care and who are they again?

After watching this, as much minor enjoyment as I can say I derived from watching it, I can not imagine ever watching it again. I’ve seen all the Star Wars flicks like dozens and dozens of times, but this one I can’t imagine ever wanting to watch again.

It answers the crucial question that no-one really seemed to give a toss about, at least over the last thirty years, on how difficult it was from an engineering or a project management perspective to build the original goddamn Death Star. It would have been even better with a bunch of spreadsheets, PowerPoint presentations and some Gantt charts showing the progress of the project at each and every goddamn stage.

Surely, surely we needed the logistical and technical details to be fleshed out so that we could get some closure on the project. Surely.

And we needed to know that there was some infighting, some personal rivalry between Director Krennic (Ben goddamn Mendelsohn), Grand Moff Tarkin (a heavily CGI Peter Cushing) and, of all people, Darth Vader.

Yes, Darth Vader is in this. That is… about the only cool thing about the whole film. The thing is, though, Darth Vader being in something is just about cooler than almost anything else you can imagine. After the seeming hours of corporate – organisational ‘intrigue’ (which, if you work in a place like mine, which is pretty much the Empire, is like watching home movies and thus not that interesting), watching Darth Fucking Vader kill a bunch of Rebel Alliance weaklings was, I’m ashamed to admit, pretty erotic.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. There’s plenty of other dull stuff to plod through before the 30 or so seconds I’m talking about.

There are, like in most Star Wars flicks, too many characters, and few of them worth caring about. Again, the big lie about this flick was that is was going to be completely different from every other Star Wars flicks, so, yeah, we DO get Donnie Yen, martial arts superstar, but we don’t really see him at his best. We do see him hit stormtroopers with a stick, and we hear his awkwardly-pronounced English in the service of hinting at the ambiguous relationship between his character and a large guy with a big gun and a vacuum cleaner on his back (Jiang Wen), but, really, he’s at 20% capacity, which still makes him greater than almost anyone else in this flick.

Still, I felt a bit embarrassed hearing him chant “I am one with the Force and the Force is with me” again and again. No need to brag about it, chappie. It was one of many elements that felt odd, hackneyed, token, unnecessary and slightly lame.

I don’t know that the flick necessarily takes too long to get where it needs to go, but neither can I really say that I enjoyed the journey there. We all know the Death Star blew up, and who blew it up, and all that. Adding an additional wrinkle to the overall story in making its central flaw a love letter to one’s daughter smells a bit of overeager fan fiction.

It also doesn’t help that the climactic battle is meant to be an oddly out of place World War II in the Pacific kind of homage, complete with a bunch of guys with helmets made to look like American WWII helmets, with the straps loose (I swear some of them had packs of Lucky Strikes in their helmet bands, almost), being given an inspiring speech (not really) before running on to a beach and almost certain death at the hands of an adversary that greatly outnumbers them and greatly outevils them too.

The attention to detail in repeating images from A New Hope, or Star Wars as we used to know it, is impressive, but didn’t really create that nostalgic lump in the throat (in me) that they seemed to be aiming for. Seeing Peter Cushing’s corpse reanimated via CGI ain’t that much of a thing, because not for a second did I buy it. The CGI is not that good. In that, it’s hardly seamless. You know what you’re looking at.

To say the acting and the dialogue is not as bad as Episodes I to III is damning with faint praise. Everyone acts (of the righteous dudes and dudettes like Jones, Riz Ahmed, Forest Whitaker, Diego Luna, who’s very good as a conflicted Rebel spy guy) far better than the flick probably deserves. It’s just that everything and everyone is clenched so tightly that there’s not a lot of humour in the flick to let it breathe (except for the malevolent K-2SO voiced by Alan Tudyk, who’s great and funny.

It’s also fairly noticeable on the other resurrected person (who was alive when this was made, but sadly passed away just recently) who they have at the end. Now that scene earns a lump in the throat and brings a tear to the eye, but only because we lost them so recently, and they were great, truly great and funny and all the wonderful things (yes I am playing the pronoun game, but it’s something that really shouldn’t be spoiled). They go to great lengths to ensure this flick ends practically seconds before A New Hope begins, but, really, would a completely new story not have been more interesting, and, considering this franchise, still earned a billion dollars?

Do we need another movie that shows the Rebels moving to Hoth and setting up shop, having a house warming party, dealing with getting the utilities turned on, doing some basic repairs, fighting over limited resources, just before the Empire attacks in Empire Strikes Back? Does every element of stuff we saw thirty years ago need to be expanded upon, ‘fleshed out’ without real purpose or cover-versioned ad infinitum?

I don’t think so. This flick isn’t awful, and it’s nice for the main character in a Star Wars flick to be female, but they didn’t really give her that much to do. As a contrast to Rey in Force Awakens, the most of what Jyn gets to do here is try and solve her daddy issues in public but fail to do so in time.

Hardly inspiring

6 times I would be screaming “and where’s my fucking lightsabre?” if I were in one of these movies out of 10

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“You're confusing peace with terror.”
- “Well, you have to start somewhere.” – sounds like the world we live in right about now – Rogue One.

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